Remember those articles you read and wrote for your senior capstone class? The ones that had titles like “”Dickens and Dementia: A Treatise on the Manifestations of Neurotic Disorders or Paranoia in the Novel Little Dorrit.” Note: Those types of titles are not encouraged.
But with all the dissimilarities, there are some similarities between a good college paper and a great online article.
Quality copywriting and college papers both have a thesis, also called a controlling idea or theme. Usually contained in a sentence, here the writer takes a stance on the topic and states it.
Proof then backs up this statement. In a college paper, this was usually hours and hours of painful research for facts, statistics, and sources with a lot of fluffy writing thrown in. (Did the professor see through that? Usually.)
With copywriting, cut out the fluff. Readers, unlike professors, are not paid to read ten pages of content. They are usually in a hurry to find answers to their questions and won’t take the time to sift through useless content. So, after stating your thesis, get straight to the point. Provide logical, researched proof that your thesis is valuable.
Finally, sum it all up with a conclusion. To be honest, conclusions are very much like the credits at the end of your favorite TV show. Do you read them? Probably not. However they add a sense of finality to the episode. Will your audience read your conclusions? That depends on your level of engagement with the audience. Based on the evidence, this is the least read area of the average web page.
The goal is to make your article so engaging that the reader doesn’t leave before the conclusion. Is it possible? Yes.
One way to do this is by including a call to action. This answers the question: “So what?” After the reader has determined the validity of the argument, what action should they take? Use your final paragraph to state this action.
This might sound too basic, but good copywriting starts at the basics.
The great football coach, Vince Lombardi, would famously start out his pre-season training by holding up a football and explaining the basics. While it’s certainly not a grade or a football game that is at stake here, it is an online reputation, a sale, or a job. Depending on your priorities, the stakes might be slightly higher. By building on the basics of copywriting you can at least know that you are starting at the right place. Where you go from there is up to you.